Stories

CONTENT WARNING

The following personal stories contain content pertaining to suicide and gun violence. These stories may be harmful or traumatizing to some people. We share these stories to promote discussion of family fire and potentially reduce and prevent future tragedies. Awareness enables change.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the free and confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741. Help is on the other end of the line.

Gun Owners on Safe Storage

Mark House new York

Mark House is a supporter of the End Family Fire campaign. He is also a gun owner and advocate for safe storage. Hear his story

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Jahara and Lara Matisek

We are Jahara and Lara Matisek; an active-duty military family. We ensure our firearms are always stored securely in a locked safe that is only accessible to us. Our child does not know that we own guns. At no point can she, a friend, or any other individual gain access to them.

We know the tremendous responsibility that comes with gun ownership and realize the duty we have to use extreme caution. We understand that a firearm in the home is more likely to be used accidentally and cause harm. We believe in taking every safety measure available to ensure we never become a statistic. Our hope is that every gun, in every home, is treated as the deadly weapon that it is and all precautions are taken to prevent misuse

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Michael california

As a young lawyer, I prosecuted some misdemeanors involving illegal gun use. When I got my first case, I knew very little about guns and needed to learn about them. With that introduction, I started target shooting and eventually bought my own pistol. The criminologist that I worked with as a prosecutor explained to me that the overwhelming majority of gun accidents involve a loaded gun left unsecured in the home. This really stuck with me. I store my gun in a SentrySafe small capacity biometric safe. It provides secure storage so that no one else can access the gun. It also provides ready access. It can be opened in one of three ways: with a fingerprint, a user-set silent digital combination lock, or a physical key. I use the combination lock, which I practice opening at least once a week. The physical key is stored remote from the safe.

Think of how you would feel if a family member or someone important to you was shot because you didn’t store your gun properly. Storage can be secure and provide quick access. There is no excuse not to store your weapons properly.

Gun Suicide Prevention

Denise Marks Valencia, pennsylvania

My youngest daughter’s name was Emily Elizabeth Marks.

She inherited her father’s brown eyes and his cheerful smile. That smile could hide even the deepest pain.

From me she got her love of music and her quirky sense of humor.

She was pure joy.

On April 27 2012, Emily was a sophomore in college. She had spent the previous 3 days cramming for finals. She was to take her last one, anatomy, that morning.

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Adam Friedman Mill Valley, california

My grandfather was my hero. As someone who served in our military, to me, he exemplified so many values -- like courage and perseverance – that I really admired. Just around eight years ago, in August, I remember my mom coming into my bedroom and telling me that my grandfather had died. He shot himself with a gun. My grandfather’s death wasn’t something that was inevitable. It wasn’t something that had to happen. In the end, he had access to his firearms when he was in a moment of crisis and the situation ended really, really badly. It came from a place of such pain. And it only led to more pain for us.

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Khary Penebaker Milwaukee, wisconsin

Unfortunately, I can't tell you a lot about my mom because she was just 27 years old when she completed suicide with a gun. I was not even two years old, so I don't remember anything about her. I don't know what her voice sounds like. I don't know what it's like to have my own mother tell me that she loves me, or that she's proud of me. I was robbed of those special moments. A bullet stole her from me.

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Erin Dunkerly Pasadena, california

My dad was a free spirit and he was very opinionated at times. He was a lot of fun to hang out with, and he was my good friend, actually.

I lost him in 2006. He had previously attempted suicide by other means and was able to get treatment, but this final time, he used a friend’s gun. He found the gun in a bedroom drawer, unsecured. Even though it was years ago that my dad died, the way I describe it for people is my dad shot himself and the bullet hit everyone in his life.

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Fenway Jones Fenton, michigan

The first friend I lost by suicide, his name was Jasper. And he was my gaming partner in crime. He was very compassionate and just cared for everyone like they were part of his family.

And then the second was one of my friends from my youth group, Tori. We hung out there every week. She was very bright and she had a great personality.

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Unintentional Shootings

Sean Smith Pembroke Pines, florida

June 5, 1989: when I got home, I was looking for my video games to play. I knew where they were hidden since I was such a curious little kid. But, instead of the video games, I found my dad’s gun. Pulled it out, thinking -- like I would with any other toy -- that I’d try to play with it. My sister was running out of the room, just as the gun went off. She died, instantly. Even thirty years later, I still remember it all like it was yesterday. I pray in the morning, and make sure I forgive myself and make sure I know that I was just a kid, and it was an accident. But something like this, it can happen in a millisecond, and change your life forever. By storing guns securely -- locked, unloaded and separately from ammunition -- we can keep our families safe and make sure they don’t experience the same tragedy.